A scientist discovers that theres gold on the moon he builds a rocket to fly there but theres too much rivalry among the crew to have a sucessful expedition. Studio: Kino International Release Date: 11/09/2004 Run time:... more » 169 minutes Director: Fritz Lang« less
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 11/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had heard of Fritz Lang's WOMAN IN THE MOON for many years and had seen stills from it in sci-fi film anthologies but I was never sure if I would ever get to see it. Now that I have seen it I was totally unprepared for how taken I would be with it. It is absolutely astonishing how forward looking this film was (is). From a technical standpoint it was the 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY of its day. The latest technology of 1929 was used by Lang to depict a trip to the moon 40 years before it actually happened.
The attention to detail, always a Lang trademark, is on full display here. German scientists were consulted on the rocket and space sequences and chillingly give us a glimpse of the technology that would be employed by the Nazis during World War II. Even more chilling and prophetic is how the principal heavy is the spitting image of Hitler minus his mustache (and Hitler wanted Lang to be the Third Reich's filmmaker!). In addition to the technological aspects the human side of the story is also quite compelling. There's a love triangle, the crazy dreamer who isn't crazy, a global financial conspiracy and even an unwanted passenger aboard the rocket. Every technical science fiction film or series that follows (THINGS TO COME, 2001, even LOST IN SPACE to name but a few) owe a debt to WOMAN IN THE MOON. The performances are all first rate with Gerda Maurus in the title role and Fritz Rasp as the villain standing out but it's the story and the settings that really shine.
This new Kino version restores the film to it's almost 3 hour length and Jon C. Mirsalis' score is simple and extremely effective particularly in the rocket and lunar sequences. Once you see this movie you will be amazed at how many scenes you have seen elsewhere in other movies and TV shows. It's great to finally have the opportunity to see the source material at last... Historical Note: The idea of counting down to zero to launch a rocket comes from this film."
Griffin | Canada | 10/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well we finally get to see the full 161 minute version. Some of you may know that in 1930 the founders of the American Interplanetary society invited Swiss aviation pioneer Robert Esnault Pelterie to speak to their membership in NYC. As part of the event they decided to translate this Lang masterpiece into English. Unfortunately for the rest of us they gutted it down to about 80 minutes. Not only did they remove all the "non-space" stuff but they actually re-wrote the story by creating new title cards. Consequently the new version made little sense. Well finally here we have the uncut original with all title cards intact and a story line which actually makes sense. The print is almost perfect and the company in Europe are to be applauded for resurrecting this brilliant piece of work. German rocket pioneers Otto Willi Gail, Willy Ley and Hermann Oberth consulted on the space flight section and it shows. Visuals are a real treat and you can actually read much of the details such as science fiction pulp magazines etc. If you have ever wondered what the heck this movie was about, now is your chance to finally see it as it was made in 1929. A real treat. "
Die Frau im Mond
S. Flynn | 02/06/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Painstaking direction by Fritz Lang combines with sometimes ridiculous overwriting by wife Thea von Harbau to produce a mixed masterpiece. The movie can be described as 1) crime thriller segueing into 2) eerily prescient science fiction descending into 3) soapy melodrama. Lang's influence is most obvious in the middle section but the cumbersome plotline slows down the beginning and end.
We open with handsome Doctor Helius chewing scenery with an aged professor driven into poverty and near-insanity by the rejection of his theory that the moon's mountains are full of gold. The good Doctor still believes in him, as do the 5 potentates (!) who control the world's gold supply and wish to corral the moon's as well. This introduces an underworld spy played quite suavely by Fritz Rasp.
We also meet the eponymous Woman, Gerda Maurus, a lady with expressive eyes, no particular figure and a rather bad hair-do. She is a jolly sort, though, as well as a much stronger individual than the jelly-backboned dames who pollute the post-WWII genre, and serves well enough as the love interest for both the good Doctor and his (mostly) loyal engineer Hans.
This all gets sticky for about an hour until we finally meet the Rocketship. The roll-out of the Ship is a sequence of monumental power as the massive craft and supporting structure are slowly rolled out of the assembly building to the launch pad as the moon rises out of the searchlit gloom and crowds and photographers swarm beneath the juggernaut to the accompaniment of radio voice-over which, though completely unheard in a silent film, is so beautifully gestured that we understand exactly what the announcer is saying.
The whole launch and countdown scene is one of the greatest sequences in science fiction, full of painstaking detail, creating immense drive and drama but in a vein of complete human reality. The added film score by Marsalis lends impetus particularly to this sequence.
Scenes of the craft in weightlessness are also well-grounded in physics (rocket pioneer Hermann Oberth was technical consultant). Unfortunately the landing on the moon also lands us right back in the Harlequin romance script. The lunar scenery leaves reality completely behind, while the whole hour-long Gold Syndicate subplot at the beginning basically evaporates into a bit of wrestling in the sand.
The romantic triangle is a good enough romantic triangle. It just seems like a long way to go to have a soap opera.
Even so, the amazing middle part contains maybe the most powerful dramatization of real science that I have seen, inventing the countdown sequence now used routinely in space and military launches. These scenes can be watched separately as a smaller, almost self-contained masterpiece within the much longer film."
Changed film history like Apollo 11 changed history
M. J Jensen | Venice, CA United States | 12/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The impact that Fritz Lang's last silent movie would have on the world is bigger than the impact his film has had on audiences. By this i mean that although the influence of this film can be sensed everywhere--from real-world rocket launches to other space exploration stories--it remains relatively unknown to most people today.
To those who are familiar with it, even the severly edited version that had previously been available before this DVD release, it is most famous for its scientific accuracy in the launching of the rocket, and especially notable for the famous 5,4,3,2,1 countdown, which has since been the definitive rocket launch protocol. Outside of the real world, Lang's vision of space travel proved to be the cinematic archetype for decades, until the new wave of 2001 and Star Wars. It's influence can be seen directly and indirectly accross all genres, even in Abbott & Costello Go to Mars!
One of the common complaints about the story is the scientific inaccuracies, specifically the atmosphere on the moon. It has been validly argued that Lang and his scientific advisors should have been aware that there is no atmosphere on the moon--and they were! What most people overlook in their nitpicking is that the film clearly explains the theory of a partial atmosphere on the dark side of the moon. While this is still scientifically inaccurate to those of us who never knew a time when man had not landed on the moon, this was actually a common device used in pre-Apollo science fiction, prevelant in the Fantastic Four comic books of the 60's (and still present in the Marvel Universe today).
Of course, the film is not limited just to a moon launch and landing. There is a captivating spy thriller that leads up to the climactic voyage. While it's not by any means as exciting as the special effects-oriented half of the story, it would still stand alone as an entertaining movie.
The film has been presented in exceptional clarity for a silent movie, but that's to be expected from industry-leader Kino. My only real complaint about the DVD is the lack of special features, which should be mandatory for any movie with this much history. To Kino's credit, it does include a gallery of fascinating images, ranging from the movie poster, to stills, and behind the scenes photographs. However, it is the first time on DVD (or VHS as far as i can tell), and so an even better special edition will no doubt surface in a few years.
In the end, this film should not be elevated to more than it claims to be--the vision of a moon voyage in 1929--for as anything else it will fall short. Still, it should not be viewed merely as a time-piece or a relic, for all science fiction can become absurd in retrospect. Instead of looking back on it, it is best to look at it as a visionary forerunner looking ahead."
Vastly Underrated Effort by Fritz Lang
Norm | Montana USA | 12/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a beautifully restored edition of Fritz Lang's final silent film. Playing just 11 minutes short of 3 hours, the viewer must be a little patient as the story unfolds for the first hour or so. Its easy to let the aspect of space travel cause oversight to the character development and subplots as they unfold early in the film. When the rocket launch is about to take place, the characters are well developed and the spectacle of space travel takes center stage. Considering the 1929 knowledge of rocket science, many details of the trip to the moon are quite prophetic thanks to Lang's research into technology known at the time. The ending of the film works very well and the whole experience leaves the viewer with a real sense of time travel into the imagination of a great film maker. The new musical soundtrack by Jon Mirsalis is wonderful and appropriate. If you love silent film or science fiction, give Woman in the Moon consideration, it will reward you."